Jun 05 2014

Examining India’s Gender Violence Through the Lens of Caste

A tiny rural village in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has become the focus of international outrage in the wake of a horrific double rape and lynching of two young girls that happened on May 27th. Three young brothers aged 19 to 26 have been arrested and charged with the crime. The two young victims aged 12 and 14 were last seen alive leaving their home in the middle of the night to relieve themselves. Their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree the next day and medical exams showed they had been raped.

What has not been examined in the media coverage of the incident is the role that India’s caste system plays in such incidents of gender violence. The two young girls were from the Shakya caste while the alleged perpetrators are from the Yadav caste. While both castes are designated as so-called “lower castes,” the Yadav caste is dominant in the village where the violent crime was committed.

India has been grappling with high-profile rapes and sexual assaults for a number of years, sparked by the 2012 violent gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in the capital, Delhi. But, adding the lens of India’s caste system exposes the disproportionately higher incidents of sexual violence against women and girls from India’s historically discriminated castes.

GUEST: Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit-American filmmaker and Transmedia artist, co-founder of the international women’s media technology collective, Third World Majority.

Follow the organizing work of Dalit women in social media at #DalitWomenFight

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